When considering Aged Care options for yourself or for someone you care for, there are many questions which need to be answered. Brendon Marnies from Money Solutions advises you to plan ahead and understand the options available, so you can make the best financial decisions.
Q: How do I arrange an ACAT assessment?
To access most Government funded community care services and aged care homes, you will need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine which level of care is appropriate. As part of the assessment, an ACAT professional, usually a doctor, nurse, social worker or other health care professional, will come and talk to you about your general health and how well you are coping with day-to-day life.
Getting the assessment is easy and there are a number of ways you can arrange one:
- Ask for a referral from your doctor, community nurse or social worker
- Call the Aged and Community Care Information Line on 1800 200 422 or visit their website on www.seniors.gov.au
- Visit the Department of Health and Ageing website – www.health.gov.au – and use its ‘ACAT Finder’ to locate an ACAT which services your area
An ACAT will also provide you with information about the services which are available in your area.
Q: Which facility should I choose?
Once you’ve been ACAT approved, the next step is to choose an appropriate aged care facility to best meet your needs. There are a wide variety of facilities available. In some ways it is like purchasing a home. You may require certain features which fit in with your lifestyle. These will generally come at a cost and you may need to make compromises.
The website www.agedcareguide.com.au provides a comprehensive list of facilities around Australia. You may need to visit several before you find one or more with which you are comfortable.
You should also examine who operates a particular facility and find out as much as you can about the operator. After conducting your site visits, make a short list of at least three preferred facilities.
In choosing a facility you will need to consider three main factors – the level of care required, lifestyle and financial factors.
If you are entering a low-level care home or a high-level care home with extra services, you’ll be asked to pay an upfront cost called an accommodation bond. The amount of the accommodation bond, generally a one-off lump sum, is negotiated with the home at the time of entry, and will vary from facility to facility.
There are also several types of ongoing charges you may be require to pay, usually depending on the type of home you enter and the services offered.
If you’re entering a high-level home without extra services, you’ll be asked to pay an accommodation charge in lieu of an accommodation bond. Similar to the bond, your charge will be negotiated with the home at the time of entry. The charge is calculated daily and is set upon entry into the home, so it will not change while you’re a resident.
A basic daily fee is another ongoing charge payable by all residents for the costs of daily living such as meals, cleaning, laundry and heating. For someone entering care today, the basic daily fee is $44.54 per day (this is indexed twice a year in-line with the indexation increases to the Age/Service Pension).
You may also be asked to pay an income-tested fee on top of the basic daily fee. The amount of this fee is determined by your assessable income and should not be more than the cost of your care.
To give you more flexibility and choice, a number of low and high-level care facilities also offer extra services for an additional fee. These services may include a higher standard of accommodation, food and other services.
There are ways to structure your investments to minimise your aged care costs. Your financial adviser can help you make the right decisions when it comes to affording care.
Q. How can I increase my chances of getting into my preferred facility?
Demand for aged care facilities is generally high, so make sure you lodge applications with a few of your preferred facilities. An aged care facility makes offers to potential residents as places become vacant.
The aged care facility can decide whether or not to accept an offer and will take into account the person’s needs, its ability to cater for them, as well as commercial factors. If you are accepted into a facility, you should notify any other providers with whom you have lodged an application.
Your ability to negotiate fees with an aged care facility will depend on a range of factors. If the facility is relatively new or part of an expanding group of homes, it is unlikely that the provider will negotiate on the accommodation bond. However, if the aged care facility is established, there may be room to negotiate. Likewise, facilities in capital cities often experience high demand, whereas facilities in regional areas, where demand for places may be lower, could be more likely to negotiate their fees.
Q: What should I do with the family home?
For many people the family home is their major asset. There are a number of emotional and financial factors to take into account when deciding whether to sell or retain the family home. It is also important to understand how this decision will impact your aged care fees and Centrelink entitlements. A financial adviser can help you with this important decision.
Q. Who can I call for help?
If you, or someone you love, is thinking about moving into aged care, it’s best to get financial advice before moving into a home. If you need financial advice on aged care, simply call 1800 193 937 for an initial, obligation-free discussion with an aged care adviser.
This advice is provided by Money Solutions Pty Ltd. Money Solutions Pty Ltd is a member of ASFA, the FSC and a Professional Partner of the FPA. Money Solutions holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL 258145), ABN 36 105 811 836.This article contains general information only and does not constitute personal advice. It does not take into account your financial situation or particular needs. Accordingly, you should seek professional advice which takes account of your investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs before making a decision in relation to any of the matters covered in this article.